For that generally unbearable two or three weeks of back and forth between the Yankees front office and Derek Jeter’s representation, a large part of the Yankees fan base seemed to turn on Jeter, labeling him as a greedy, ungrateful prima donna. How dare he try to negotiate the largest contract possible? I got more than one email suggesting Jeter could learn a thing or two from Mariano Rivera, who so quietly settled on a two-year deal to return as the Yankees closer, reportedly shunning an offer from the rival Red Sox.
Now here’s a report that it was Rivera’s camp that approached the Red Sox — not the other way around — about an offer to bring the great Yankees closer to Boston. Pretty good negotiating strategy if you ask me, and apparently an effective one.
But what to make of Rivera’s use of the Red Sox to create leverage?
My advice? Make nothing of it.
If you want to root for these people as baseball players, that’s great. If you want to appreciate them as people, even better. In this game, it’s hard to find better examples of players who so perfectly blend Hall of Fame talent with general decency than Jeter and Rivera.
Contract negotiations, though, are something completely different. To borrow a word from Hal Steinbrenner, they tend to get “messy,” and there are forces involved well beyond the players themselves.
“When they’re on the field, that’s when it’s at their best,” Brian Cashman said during Jeter’s press conference last week. “When they’re at the negotiating table, it’s a different arena. It’s a different type of game than the one they’re used to playing on the field. That’s why it’s a good thing there are agents in between.”
Associated Press photo